The Best Wrestling Shoes
A question I commonly answer for those new to the sport or looking to find the best shoes on the market is “What are the best wrestling shoes?”
Quite frankly, I never had an answer. I have my favorite shoes, but does that deem them the best? Not necessarily. So I went to Google. And what I found were horrible recommendations from Amazon Affiliates trying to make a quick buck on those new to the wrestling world. They do this by making a commission from the sales generated from their posts. After many attempts at finding a good answer for this question, I turned to those I know in the wrestling community.
I reached out to several lifetime wrestlers to get their thoughts on the best wrestling shoes on the market and the best wrestling shoes ever made. Even as a collector for over 10 years, the results were surpising.
To compile the two lists lists found in this blog, I got responses from:
- 9 NCAA Coaches
- 2 NCAA Champs
- 10 NCAA All-Americans
- 15 NCAA Qualifiers
- 25 state medalists, 9 of which were state champs in their home state
- Countless district champs, regional champs, and state qualifiers
The lists below are compiled solely on the data from my responses. Unlike other lists you will find online, I am not an affiliate or partner with any of the brands mentioned below. All of the responses are subjective to the respondent.
Below are two different lists answering the question regarding the best wrestling shoes in different ways. The first list is simply the top responses I received. The second is the top responses I got for shoes you can still buy retail. The shoes in the first list are likely going to cost you a few hundred dollars or more since they aren't still made. The shoes in the second list are going to be your best bet if you're looking to spend under $200 on your wrestling shoes.
Best Wrestling Shoes Ever Made - A Top 6 List
Now for the answers you’ve been waiting for. This list highlights the top 6 responses I received based on volume. Due to a few ties, there are actually 8 shoes mentioned below!
Rulons came in 4 colorways. They were in black/gold, red/black, orange/grey, and blue/silver. Pictured above are the gold and black colorway.
1. Asics Rulon Gardners
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition: $600-1500 (Varies on size, condition, and colorway, but I've seen new with box Gold Rulons go for $1500)
29 of my respondents had Rulons atop their list of the best shoes they ever owned. This really wasn’t surprising. These are also at the top of my personal list of favorites. Rulons are known for being some of the most durable shoes ever made. They’re comfortable, cool, and last through years of wear and tear. There are many reasons why Rulons landed at the top of this list, with more than double the responses than any other shoe on this list. Interested in learning more about Rulon wrestling shoes? Click to view the guide.
Pictued above are 3 of the 5 models of kolats. From left to right are kolat 2000s, kolat speeds, and the blue version of the kolat 2000s.
2. Nike Kolats
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition (varies on model): $400-900
I know there are multiple makes and models of Kolats. I grouped them into one because quite frankly, Kolat Speeds and Original Kolats are so close in design that it is hard to differentiate them for the sake of this post. 17 respondents had Kolats at the top of their list. 11 of the 17 picked Kolat Speeds. 4 had OG Kolats. The other 2 votes were split between Kolat Internationals and Kolat 2k4s. Interested in learning more about Kolat wreslting shoes? Click to view the guide.
3. Asics Aggressors
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition (varies on model): $100-350
Now on the “Aggressor 4”, Asics is coming in on the list at number 3 with a shoe that’s very similar to the Rulons mentioned at #1. Aggressors feature a sole that is known to last for years. Of the shoe models still made today, Asics Aggressors has 16 votes from those I talked with. I’ll speak from first hand experience when I say these shoes are loved for their comfort, durability, and performance
4. (TIE) Nike Inflicts
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition (varies on model): $400-800 for originals or original reissues. $150-350 for inflicts made after 2008.
Coming in tied for #3 was another shoe line that was not overly surprising. Nike Inflicts have been around since the 90s for a reason. There are still versions of inflicts being released today. They’re now on the Inflict 3, which is arguably the most popular shoe among athletes competing in the 2020 era. I had 13 respondents who had Nike Inflicts on their list of the best wrestling shoes ever. 9 of the 13 noted the originals as their favorite, but if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable the Inflict 3s are not much different than the originals. Interested in learning more about Nike Inflict Wrestling Shoes? Click to view the guide.
Pictured above is a pair of combats from the early 90s. The red and black combats were an original colorway and the colorway is still used today.
4. (TIE) Adidas Combat Speeds
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition (varies on model): Newer versions are typically under $200. Older models vary from $300. Some models from the late 80s/early 90s will be $1000+ in new condition.
A holy grail for Adidas wrestling shoe collectors. Adidas Combat Speeds have been on the market since the late 1980s. They’re still on the market today for a reason. Much like the inflicts, they’ve changed slightly in design, but are still very much the same in look and feel as they were 40+ years ago when they were first released.
Note: The adistars pictured above had the lace cover removed.
5. Blue and Black Adidas Adistars
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition: $300-450
This is by far the most surprising result for me. Adistars were shoes that hit the market in 2005. They were and still are popular, but I never thought they’d crack the top 5 of this list, or even top 10 for that matter. If we count the tie, they came in at 5th for the best wrestling shoes of all time. Pretty impressive for a shoe that only came in one colorway and that was only released one time – unlike every other shoe on this list. 7 of the 150 responses voted for the blue and black Adistars for their pick.
Pictured above is a camo/black colorway of the Asics Pursuit 1s, known as Camo P1s.
6. (TIE) Asics Pursuits
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition (varies on model): $125-350 for pursuit 1s, $250-400 for pursuit 2s.
6 respondents had Asics Pursuits at the top of their list. 4 of these were bigger fans of the Pursuit 2s, while 2 of the 6 liked the Pursuit 1s. Known as p1s or p2s, these shoes were found on feet all over the country in the early 2000s.
Pictured above is the black and yellow colorway of the Sydney 2000s wrestling shoes.
6. (TIE) Adidas Sydney 2000s
Estimated price to buy in new or like new condition: $250-500
Commonly noted as the most comfortable shoe ever made by wrestling shoe collectors. Made in 2000 for the Sydney Olympics, these shoes were made in 3 colorways. 6 responders had these at the top of their list for the best shoes ever made.
Best Wrestling Shoes You Can Buy in 2021
1. Asics Aggressors
Approximate retail price for Aggressor 4s: $120
Now on the “Aggressor 4”, Asics is coming in at the top of this list and at #3 of our all time favorites with 16 votes. The results from this survey should speak for themselves. If you’re looking for a pair of great shoes, the Aggressors are a favorite across the board.
2. (TIE) Nike Inflicts
Approximate retail price for Nike Inflict 4s: $105
Nike Inflict 3s are again a remake of one of the shoes mentioned above. With 13 votes, it’s hard to deny the popularity of these shoes. Nike inflicts are a favorite of collectors and newbies alike, which is why Nike chooses to keep these shoes on the market today.
2. (TIE) - Adidas Combat Speeds
Approximate retail price for Adidas Combat Speed 5s: $85
There is a reason why Adidas is on the 5th version of the Combat Speed with their release of the Combat Speed 5s. These shoes have been around since the late 1980s. Yes that long, which is one of many reasons they have 13 votes. With the exception of the Combat 3s (for a few reasons), Combat Speeds design and overall look has withstood the test of time. The design used in 2021 in these shoes is very close to that used back in the late 80s and early 90s. Commenters noted that these shoes “feel like socks” and “fit like a glove” which is one of many reasons they landed themselves on both of these lists. They are also affordable, with retail prices of less than $100. They’re the lowest priced shoes you’ll find with ratings this high. As someone who has worn these shoes for years, I can attest to their durability and comfort.
3. Nike Freeks
Approximate retail price for Nike Freeks: $125-135
This shoe can stand on its own with the fact that it was listed 5 times from my respondents, and it’s the only shoe with no history. Aggressors, Combat Speeds, and Inflicts all have predecessors. The Inflicts and Aggressors have been made for 2+ decades. Even the Aggressors are very similar to Rulons, which is essentially their predecessor, despite their name difference. Nike Freeks are a great wrestling shoe. I wore these in college and high school for matches, so despite note voting for them, I can see why numerous people did. These shoes, similar to the Aggressors, are known for a long lifespan and years of wear. They’re also extremely comfortable, which is why you’ll see many athletes wearing them at the NCAA tournament in March!
Questions About The Best Wrestling Shoes Ever Made?
If you have any questions regarding this list of the best wrestling shoes ever made, please reach out! I can be contacted by using this contact form and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can!